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New facility for pediatric cancer patients being considered at Mount St Benedict

Proposed look of the facility

“Rising from ashes”.

This is exactly how Abbot John Pereira OSB referred to news of the burnt apiary at Mt St Benedict now being considered the proposed site for a pediatric cancer facility of the Just Because ‘JB’ Foundation.

“If that is not God’s providence, I do not know what is,” Abbot Pereira told Catholic News.

The apiary was burnt last February in suspected arson. The proposed space was earmarked for construction in March.

The pediatric cancer facility is being built by Promise House TT, a charitable organisation with the goal of building a permanent home away from home (HAFH) for eligible pediatric cancer outpatients and family members, who are receiving services from the Just Because Foundation.

The JB Foundation is a non-profit charitable organisation aimed at providing care, support and accommodation for children with cancer and other non-communicable diseases. It was established by Noel and Chevaughn Joseph, parents to Jabez ‘JB’ Joseph who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at the age of three and a half years old. He died two years later. The Foundation came to fruition on what would have been JB’s sixth birthday, August 2, 2007.

JBFs favorite toy Mr. Waffles chilling out with a JBF “Be Better Bear”

Thirteen years later, [C] Joseph asserted “now I understand that’s its God’s purpose, because I know He could have saved JB’s life. But it was about something bigger. It was teaching us how to care for a child with cancer and therefore we can share our support….”

The latest facility will add to an already existing property in Champs Fleur that is being rented by the Foundation at TT$7,800 per month. No charge is extended to outpatients who include children from T&T and the region.

Joseph explained due to COVID-19, there are currently no regional guests at that location. Over the last 13 years, the Foundation has had 32 regional guests in their care.

The Foundation also owns a bus, which has been a source of transporting children and parents to and from the hospital.

Speaking with Catholic News via phone, Joseph expressed gratitude for the “amazing assignment” God has granted them.


A blessing in Mt St Benedict


According to Joseph, the location is an ideal facility. It is situated in close proximity to the JBF Pediatric Specialty Unit of the Wendy Fitzwilliam Pediatric Hospital, Mt Hope. It is the Caribbean’s first multi-disciplinary, family-centred children’s ward. Most importantly, she felt it was fitting that a facility of this kind be erected in the “holy land” of Mt St Benedict.



Aerial view of the proposed site for the new pediatric facility, Mount St Benedict

The burnt apiary at Mount St Benedict

“That’s a place when you [are] overwhelmed you go up there. It’s a place for replenishing…it was about His timing because the other places we attempted to get fell through and was not even as nice as the holy hills at Mt St Benedict,” Joseph said.

One particular location she shared was in Caura “which fell through”. In hindsight, she believes this was God at work.

“…of course, I was sad…Caura, you think of sick people. Mt St Benedict is healing, wellness, holy…. So I know we got something better for parents and children. The truth about it and that I live by is a closed door isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that God wants a bigger, better door for you.”

Joseph revealed that she had no idea that the Mount was the proposed site for the JB Foundation pediatric cancer facility.

She explained Cherise Stauble of Promise House TT, a breast cancer survivor who was involved with the Foundation for 11 years, along with friends came together with the view to lending support to existing organisations that support children with cancer in Trinidad.

When asked to share how an idea came to fruition, Stauble quipped “we were just a little boldface if I’m going to be honest.”

She continued, “We made an appointment with Abbot Pereira and we asked him…We took a walk that day and had a look at the burnt-out building [the apiary] and we began to dream beyond our wildest dream what to put on that site that would not only transform the Mount physically but what it would also mean for those children in such an amazing location where they are surrounded by all things natural, breezy, beautiful, a sense of freedom,” Stauble said.

The facility is designed to accommodate six families comprising one parent and one child. Each room has its own bathroom. The facility will also include a kitchen, dining area, playground , chapel and a physiotherapy room.

Joseph shared that she invited the kids to draw images of what they think the house should look like.

Stauble clarified that the enterprise is being funded through the kind donation and assistance from benefactors and fundraisers.

With construction being delayed because of COVID-19, Stauble confirmed that Promise House TT hopes to “break ground” within the next six weeks.

“Maybe this time by next year we may be able to open its doors,” she said.